Barris and Corrigan Hot at Boulder Invitational

May 8, 2023
Boulder, CO

Tournament Director John Stegner writes: The “Beach Party - Ironman” of platform tennis returned for a ninth time on May 6th. Following a few years’ break that started with a canceled tournament due to the Covid outbreak, the organizer (me) was missing this end-of-season tradition and dusted off the draw.

Featuring a unique format….16 players, 2 pools of 8, and 7 matches with 7 different partners in pool play to determine pairings for the semifinals based on the most games won in pool play. The finalists must play 10-11 sets to claim a championship. The action is non-stop, and the players hardly have time to catch their breath. Before the four finalists step on the grit for the championship match, they are typically fighting cramps and blood loss.

This year, a Denver-based upstart, Cole Barris, dominated Pool A and was able to snag the seven-time Boulder Paddle League Champion, Curt Corrigan as his wingman. Across the net, there was a three-way tie to face them with Andy Smith, Jordan Bailey, and fan favorite (because he brought an entourage to the event, literally) Sam McKee. The much beloved Mr. Smith lost the paddle spin to advance, and it was game on for Barris/Corrigan vs. Bailey/McKee in the finals.

Bailey/McKee had every advantage, a fan base behind them, youth, athleticism, good looks, great hair, and their eye on the prize…sweet Xenon Paddle Bags for the victors! Out of the gate however, Corrigan proved why he always wins, like always wins everything. The older and wiser player had Bailey/McKee running around the court chasing everything down until they just couldn’t. Barris continued his excellent performance, not a racquet sports player, his technique has been perfected on the grit (rumor has it he teethed on a paddle handle), and he backed up all his talk nicely. Barris/Corrigan pulled ahead from the start and never looked back. Bailey/McKee landed plenty of body blows, but the knockout punches were all Barris/Corrigan.

Following the finals, Cole Barris was asked what made him so darn good. He said, “I learned everything I know from Mike Cochrane” and the admiring players around him just nodded; it made sense now. The Boulder crowd holds Mr. Cochrane in high regard, only behind the Demi-God of Boulder Paddle Tom Houlihan. If you ever travel to Boulder and wish to visit the “Tommy Houlihan Paddle Shrine,” just let us know. Tom assured us all he was paddling on Saturday, albeit in a kayak, but we will take it.

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L to R Finalists Sam McKee/Jordan Bailey, TD John Stegner, Winners Curt Corrigan/Cole Barris

In the end, it was a great day, we all had our chance, we all got our fill, and we lived up to our motto, “The Most Fun Wins.” We all walked away Champs, but Barris/Corrigan have the sweet new bags.

Special thanks to The Meadows Club for hosting the tournament and to Xenon Paddle for sponsoring.

Looking forward to 2024 and the 10th “Beach Party – Ironman” of platform tennis, The Boulder Invitational. We just wish our dear friend Brock Borman could have joined us, but he was there in spirit, and his artwork will continue to be used for every Boulder Invitational. For those of you who knew Brock, you can see some of his genius here.

The APTA thanks Tournament Director John Stegner, host club The Meadows Club, and congratulates the players for what we think is the 2022-2023 season’s very last tournament.

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Sam McKee

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